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Nevada outlasts Fresno State in 3 OTs, 79-76
by Tribune Staff
Feb 25, 2012 | 780 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A week off may have the Nevada men's basketball team a little rusty. The Wolf Pack, which averages more than 75 points per game was limited to 53 in regulation Saturday night. Still, in the end, Nevada was able to clinch at least a share of the Western Athletic Conference regular season title by stealing a 79-76 triple overtime win at Fresno State.

Nevada (23-5, 11-1) trailed 74-73 after Fresno State's Kevin Foster got a tip-in with 1:24 remaining in the third overtime.

On it's ensuing possession, Nevada regained the lead, 75-74 thanks to a putback by Olek Czyz. That bucket was the start of a 6-2 Nevada run that ended the game.

With 21 seconds left, Deonte Burton drained two foul shots, pushing Nevada's lead to 77-74. Kevin Olekaibe, the WAC's leading scorer, forced up a potential game-tying 3-pointer on the next Fresno State possession. It was blocked by Nevada big man Dario Hunt, who rotated over to help on the play. Hunt grabbed the ball, pulled it down and was fouled. He connected on 1 of 2 free throws, giving Nevada a two-possession lead, 78-74, and essentially icing the Pack's road victory with 8.7 ticks to go.

In the second overtime, Nevada went on top 67-66 when Burton got 1 of 2 free throws to drop at the 1:06 mark. That lead was short-lived as Jonathan Wills made a runner to put FSU (13-17, 3-9) back ahead, 68-67, with 47 seconds left. Hunt wound up making good on 1 of 2 free throws with 27 seconds left in the second OT, knotting the game and keeping Nevada's hopes alive.

Nevada had a 62-59 lead in the first extra session following a Malik Story 15-foot jumper with 1:53 remaining. Unfortunately for the Pack, it didn't score again in the first overtime while the Bulldogs got a free throw and dunk to tie the game at 62-62, forcing the second OT.

The game was tight throughout regulation. Neither team led by more than four until the final six minutes. The contest was deadlocked at 44-44 with just under nine minutes showing on the fourth-quarter clock. A 6-0 Pack spurt gave the Reno team its largest lead of the night, 50-44.

Nevada's lead was still six, 53-47 after a Hunt dunk at the 3:43 mark of the fourth. Nevada hit another drought. It did not score through the remainder of the fourth.

Olekaibe dropped 3-point bombs on back-to-back Bulldogs possessions, the second of which tied the game at 53s with 2:53 left in the fourth.

Czyz missed two free throws for Nevada with 59 seconds left in the fourth that could have saved both teams the effort of three overtimes.

Free-throw shooting certainly hurt Nevada. It finished just 26-of-42 (62 percent) at the charity stripe Saturday.

Nevada did help its cause by limiting Olekaibe, who pours in 18 points per game. He was limited to 11 points in defeat on 3-of-13 shooting.

Czyz paced the Pack with 25 points, while Hunt and Burton added 20 and 18 respectively.

Foster had 24 off the bench to lead Fresno State. Wills chipped in 19 points and Trevor Johnson had 13.

Neither team could get much momentum in the first half, evidenced by the 23-23 score at the break. The biggest lead either team held in the first 20 minutes was four.

Nevada grabbed a four-point edge, 11-7 after an Olek Czyz 3-pointer five and a half minutes into the conference clash. The Wolf Pack could not build on it. Fresno State scored eight of the next 11 points to take a 15-14 lead.

Unfortunately for the hosts, they couldn't build on a lead either. Four times the Bulldogs led by a point, but they never could push it beyond that.

Nevada is back in action Thursday when it hosts New Mexico State at 7:05 p.m.
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